Ducati today confirmed that Casey Stoner will return to the iconic Italian manufacturer as a test rider and brand ambassador. The news has been expected for the last week and comes one hour after Honda confirmed their split from the double world champion.
For Stoner the lack of MotoGP testing opportunities were likely to grate him and the chance to join the busiest test programme in the premier class would have been very appealing.
“It’s been a great journey with HRC over the last five years,” said Stoner. “Winning the World Championship in 2011 was obviously a high point and I've made many friends and formed lasting relationships along the way. For 2016 I am very excited to announce that I will again be joining the Ducati team! I have so many great memories working with the people and the brand of Ducati and the opportunity to work with them again is something very special.
“Gigi Dall'Igna has brought with him a new approach and I'm looking forward to assisting the team, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone however I can. The Ducati brand and the Ducati fans have been such a big part of my career and my life, so it will be really great to reunite the relationship and start another chapter with this iconic brand.”
Stoner won 23 races for Ducati and the 2007 MotoGP title. His return will add a further impetuous to their desire to once again win races in the premier class.
“Stoner has always remained in the hearts of all the Ducatisti and I am really pleased that he has decided to come back to our family,” said Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali. “Casey has an extraordinary talent and with his experience he will be able to make an important contribution for Gigi and the two Andreas in the development of the Desmosedici MotoGP bike.”
The appointment of Stoner as a brand ambassador also shows the long term strategy for Ducati to build a lasting relationship with their only MotoGP champion. Domenicali went on to illustrate the plans already in place for that role.
“His presence at World Ducati Week 2016 will be a special gift for all the Ducati fans and enthusiasts, who will finally have the opportunity to catch up once again with this great champion who brought the 2007 world title to Borgo Panigale and who won numerous GP races with the Desmosedici GP.”